Because Whigs value differences of opinion and independent thought, we do not necessarily take a position on every particular issue which may be fashionable for the moment. Rather, we propose a program of broad reforms, bold policies and sensible restraint we believe will strengthen our country as it faces the challenges of the 21st Century. Our purpose is to chart a path to a government which truly does, as the preamble to the Constitution says, "establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."
As always, the policies we advocate are in line with our core values of integrity, meritocracy and independent thinking. At the very heart of our endeavor is a firm embrace of the clearest, and highest, ethical standard. We start with an unshakable commitment to an ethical public life, and we draw the inspiration for our core beliefs from the United States Military Academy cadet honor code: a Whig "will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do."
Modern Whigs will not support elected officials or candidates for office who violate this simple code. It is that simple.
In addition, as Whigs we are committed to a pragmatic, meritocratic, fact-based approach to problem solving which is neither clouded by rigid ideological dogma, nor corrupted by the influence of money.
With that, here are some of our positions on several of the key issues of the day.
Electoral reform lies at the heart of Modern Whig methodology. We believe all citizens have an equal right to be represented in the democratic process and an equivalent duty to participate in it. We oppose all attempts to limit participation or distort representation. Our current political system unduly restricts political competition and undermines the average citizen's ability to properly exercise their political rights and duties.
Modern Whigs support:
- The implementation of approval voting for all state and federal elections
- The adoption of the American Anti-Corruption Act as proposed by the non-governmental organization RepresentUs
- Ratification of a "right to vote" amendment
- Redistricting reform, including the establishment of non-partisan citizens committees, to end the practice of gerrymandering
- A ban on elected officials working as lobbyists for five years after leaving office, and a similar ban on government employees doing business with their former colleagues after leaving for the private sector
- Making Election Day a national holiday
Americans must face the fact that manufacturing, the engine of our economy for much of the 20th Century, can simply no longer generate the job growth our country needs. Globalization, automation, the Information Revolution and intense competition from rising powers such as China and India are the new reality.
Nor can consumer spending alone drive growth in today’s global knowledge-based economy. An economic model relying on people spending money they do not have to buy things they do not really need is a house of cards which will inevitably collapse under a growing mountain of debt. Whigs also do not subscribe to failed models of statist wealth redistribution. What our nation needs is a new economic model based on innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Modern Whigs propose:
- Greater emphasis on and investment in our system of public education so the creative potential of every young person is realized
- Generous grants and contracts to universities and corporations to support scientific research and development
- Maintenance of a sound safety net to promote entrepreneurial risk-taking
- Indirect investment by the general public in the commercialization of new ideas and discoveries through professionally managed public venture funds, with the profits returned to ordinary citizens as a direct "social innovation" dividend
In an era of unprecedented globalization, American economic competitiveness is dependent on the quality of our schools, colleges and universities. The strength of our civil society and vibrancy of our democracy depend on a well-educated, well-rounded citizenry.
Sadly, as is well documented in the comparative performance of our students on international tests, our public K-12 schools are currently not up to the task. In too many inner cities and rural areas learning conditions are appalling. Even in many prosperous suburbs, the quality of education is not what we believe it should be.
We can ill afford to let other countries take the lead in science, technology, engineering and math while our public schools languish in mediocrity. While charter schools may offer a temporary solution for some of the students currently trapped in low-performing public schools, it is a moral imperative that our public schools be fixed.
- Academic rigor should be the supreme value in our schools.
- Getting into a teachers college should be a highly selective process and the training should be first-class.
- Teacher pay should be based on merit, not seniority. High performers should be rewarded, low performers given additional training, and those who continue to under-perform despite the extra training should be let go and steered toward other careers.
- Schools should move away from the late-19th Century factory model on which they were initially based and instead should resemble science labs. Teachers should act as mentors who help students discover what they excel at.
- High schools and colleges should teach entrepreneurial skills and foster collaborative teamwork through inter-disciplinary projects.
- Learning should be customized to take into account the strengths and weaknesses of each student. Testing should be less frequent, more consequential, and emphasize genuine problem-solving skills and depth of knowledge. Standardized multiple-choice tests which invite guessing should be eliminated.
- State governments should ensure schools in economically disadvantaged areas receive at least similar, if not higher, levels of funding as schools elsewhere.
- A public college education should be debt-free.
Modern Whigs have always supported equal treatment under the law for all adults. We do not believe that the inalienable rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are in any way negated by a person’s race, national origin, gender, age, religion, disabilities, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Strong families are the bedrock of all successful societies. In America, we often hear glowing talk about "family values," but the reality is that our country is among the least family-friendly in the world. For example, the United States is one of only three countries (the others being Oman and Papua New Guinea) which offer no paid maternity leave. Most developed countries also mandate some paid paternity leave as well, whereas our country offers none. Developed countries also offer universal affordable child care to its citizens, and have done so for decades, whereas in the United States families struggle to pay thousands of dollars a year just to make sure kids are safe while parents are at work. In today’s globalized economy, where families with two full-time working parents prevail, this is no longer acceptable.
Modern Whigs believe we should:
- Invest adequately in high quality pre-school programs to ensure each individual reaches their full potential
- Commit annual federal grants to expand new parent training programs such as the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP)
- Guarantee at least 26 weeks of paid medical maternity/paternity leave
Taxes and Spending
Modern Whigs believe the federal tax code needs to be drastically simplified and made more equitable. The vast majority of loopholes, subsidies, exclusions, exemptions and deferrals should be eliminated; capital gains and other forms of passive income should be taxed at the same rate as earned income above a certain income threshold; and untapped sources of revenue (such as a tax on high-speed trading) should be explored to make reducing income tax rates fiscally feasible.
Modern Whigs further support:
- Greater use of lump sum payments to the states every fiscal year so governors, state legislators and county officials can effectively allocate funding to address local issues
- Increased state participation and oversight where applicable to make federal government programs more efficient and responsive to local conditions
- A top-to-bottom review of unfunded mandates and comprehensive reform of the practice
Energy Independence and National Security
Energy and national security are tied together. Put simply, our nation cannot be secure as long as we cannot meet our energy needs with our own resources. Without self-sufficiency in energy production and supply, we are subject to the often turbulent winds of international military, political and economic conflict.
Whigs believe we must:
- End our dependence on oil and develop alternative sources of energy (wind, solar, nuclear, etc.) in order to satisfy our needs without placing our economy and national security at risk
- Move as quickly as possible so we also no longer have to support corrupt and autocratic regimes in order to obtain the fuel we need to power our economy
Beyond question America’s infrastructure is in dire need of repair, rehabilitation and modernization. It's more than just a matter of falling bridges and failing levees, as important as those things are. The legacy energy, transportation, and communication systems we rely on are far behind those found in other developed countries, and if they are allowed to erode further the cost of restoring our economic competitiveness (and our overall standard of living) will begin to become prohibitive.
Worse yet, a vulnerable and weak infrastructure poses a tangible national security threat; crippling energy and transportation systems over a century old -- or older -- is an easy thing to do, especially given their lack of redundancy. Waiting any longer to address the issue will only mean greater risks and a bigger job. The time to act is now.
The Modern Whigs advocate:
- Implementing a domestic Marshall Plan focused on replacing our 20th Century infrastructure with modern, 21st Century systems
- Creating public/private partnerships funded by government guaranteed infrastructure loan banks empowered to issue very low interest, very long-term bonds suitable for financing 100-year capital improvements
- Encouraging and facilitating broad cooperation between industry and government to bring the combined expertise of two of our most fundamental institutions to bear
Global Warming and Climate Change
Modern Whigs value reason above all. For us, the question of whether global warming and the associated changes to our climate is happening, and whether human activity is the primary cause of it, is completely non-political. The best available science indicates unequivocally the use of fossil fuels is gradually driving the average global temperature higher, and as the temperature rises most of the effects will be detrimental to our way of life.
There are two immense challenges in dealing with global warming. The first is our civilization's dependence on fossil fuels as our primary source of energy. The second is the global nature of the problem -- both in terms of the entire planet's changing climate, and the fact any one country's initiatives to reduce emissions will mean little if other nations are increasing theirs. International cooperation is absolutely necessary if we're to avoid what is certain to become a very dangerous situation, eventually.
Ignoring the problem (or denying it exists) is a recipe for ultimate disaster. Focusing solely on cutting emissions will only buy time, and at tremendous cost to the world's economy and the standard of living of people around the globe. A comprehensive, holistic approach to shifting from carbon to sustainable and renewable energy sources is the only logical way forward.
The Modern Whigs believe:
- The necessity of rebuilding our infrastructure also presents an opportunity. As we upgrade our transportation, communication and energy systems to a modern, 21st Century standard we can tackle climate change at the same time by simultaneously moving away from our dependence on fossil fuels. And in the process we can develop innovative ways to create and distribute energy -- and share them with, or sell them to, the world
- The best way forward is to create more energy, not less, and to do it in a sustainable way. The Breakthrough Institute's advocacy for a "high-energy planet" falls squarely within the traditional Whig emphasis on development, industrialization and economic progress. It's built into our DNA.
- If we are to tackle the challenge of climate change we must tackle the challenge of creating a rising world at the same time. Greater wealth, more energy and a cleaner environment are attainable if we put in the effort -- but it's going to take a global consortium of public and private interests to do what must be done. America, as the leader of the world, should show the way.
Corporations or households aren't exempt from the basic rules of accounting and finance, and government shouldn't be, either. While it's true governments are not the same as households, and they will almost always carry some debt because of the way public budgeting works, overall government revenues and expenditures should match, excessive debt should be avoided, and a reserve fund should be maintained.
Modern Whigs maintain:
- Deficit spending is truly acceptable only in times of economic crisis, natural disaster or war.
- Practices such as unfunded mandates and pork-barrel spending are simply unacceptable.
- Government should be held in a fiduciary trust for the people who fund it: the taxpayers.
- Our Constitution empowers the government to "provide for the general welfare," not the welfare of specific groups who have either political or financial clout.
The most recent economic crisis was primarily caused by excessive borrowing on the part of gigantic financial institutions for the purpose of engaging in unregulated betting on the value of derivatives backed by dubious mortgages. The post-crisis financial reforms of the Dodd-Frank Act include sensible measures such as limits on leverage, the regulation of derivatives trading (including market transparency and disclosure requirements and adequate reserve fund rules), annual bank stress tests and, perhaps most important of all, vital protections for consumers who too often have been victimized by unscrupulous business practices. We believe the reforms included in the Dodd-Frank Act represent real progress, and we oppose attempts to water them down.
A properly-functioning market economy should not require taxpayer bailouts of private companies in order to maintain stability, and a free market economy shouldn't be a free-for-all. A combination of improper regulation and deregulation over the last several decades contributed greatly to the Crash of 2008; we must learn from the mistakes of the past and institute a regulatory regime which honors capitalism and free enterprise while protecting the population at large from the errors, mistakes in judgment and malfeasance of a few well-connected bad actors.
The Modern Whigs propose:
- Bank executives whose institutions require government bailouts due to unethical business practices should be "named and shamed," permanently banned from working in financial services and prosecuted if warranted by the evidence.
- The employment contracts of senior bank executives should be required to include bonus "claw-back" provisions which can be exercised if they are found guilty of financial misconduct. Institutions must also admit wrongdoing as a condition of legal settlements and the fines they pay must be increased.
- "Too big to fail" financial institutions should be broken up and a bank’s size capped at 3 percent of the total assets in the banking system.
We believe arguments over whether health care is a right or not are beside the point. Government often takes prudent action to ensure the overall well-being of the population regardless of whether rights are at stake; in the matter of health care, given the more than 50 year history of Medicare and Medicaid, we believe government has clearly established its central role in our health care system.
- Health insurance should be available, portable and affordable for all citizens, with means-tested government subsidies for those who cannot pay in full.
- Health benefits should be separated from employment -- the practice of saddling employers with costly pension and health insurance benefit obligations is hurting the ability of American companies to compete in the global economy.
- The Affordable Care Act does not do the full job of extending health care coverage to all Americans. More research and work needs to be done, and legislative changes will have to be made in order to correct some of the shortfalls of the ACA while preserving some of its successes.
- The ultimate goal should be to reduce overall healthcare spending while improving access, quality and efficiency and ensuring health care providers are fairly compensated for the vital services they perform.
The United States is and has always been a country of immigrants. Modern Whigs understand the dual responsibility of securing our borders while also dealing realistically with those undocumented immigrants already in the country. Presidents as diverse as Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama have recognized the need to deal compassionately and humanely with our population of undocumented immigrants, and we agree; harsh proposals may satisfy some of our less honorable impulses, but do little other than satisfy the anger some feel toward those who have crossed our borders without authorization.
The Modern Whigs propose:
- A program offering undocumented immigrants the opportunity for citizenship if they join the military and serve out their initial contractual term honorably. Undocumented immigrants would not be entitled to jobs requiring security clearances, but would be eligible for the G.I. Bill, Tricare and all other benefits afforded to U.S. service members who serve honorably.
- Comprehensive reform of our immigration process to attract those whose skills, education and entrepreneurial spirit will enable them to become productive contributors to the knowledge-based economy of tomorrow. As our population ages it is crucial to augment the natural growth of our population with additional taxpayers who are willing to emigrate to the United States and become productive, patriotic naturalized Americans.
- English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for all who need them. Assimilation is a key element of our melting pot. While all of us should appreciate the various cultures making up the vast, diverse fabric of our national life, we believe all Americans should ultimately share a common language.
National Security, Foreign Policy and Veterans Affairs
As a patriotic movement founded by American veterans, The Modern Whigs of America are committed to a strong national defense. We believe the United States should act to defend our national interests multilaterally whenever possible, and unilaterally if necessary.
Whigs reject isolationism and favor:
- Strong alliances with reliable partners who are willing to share the burden in the fight against our common enemies. The nature and faces of the threats to America have changed many times, and will undoubtedly change in the future, which requires flexibility in our foreign and defense policies. Whigs believe we should be a trusted friend to those who wish us well, and an implacable enemy to those who wish us harm.
- A constructive foreign policy based on our natural principles of freedom and self-determination. We recognize the diversity and complexity of the world around us, and understand the need for a constantly evolving defense and diplomatic strategy. The first priority of our government is the defense of the nation; no expense and no effort should be spared in guaranteeing our security.
- Adequate compensation for active duty service members, and access to the highest quality care and services through a well-funded Veterans Administration for those who have served. Adequate pay, pensions and support for both our active duty military personnel and our veterans is a matter of our national honor.